Last week I was sent to Berlin for a few days on business, which meant that I was finally able to knock several major museums off my ‘to do’ list. I’d only been to Berlin once before, as part of a sixth form trip, during which our programme took us to the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie and Wansee but signally failed to consider anything pre-1933. In desperation, during a couple of hours’ free time when all the other girls went shopping, I begged my teacher and a hapless friend to come with me to the Gemäldegalerie, and my abiding memory of the entire school trip is standing in front of Caravaggio’s Amor Victorious, uncertain whether to be scandalised or delighted.
(directed by Angelo Longoni for Italian TV, 2007)
Considering my interest in the Old Masters, my affection for swordsmen, and my possible weakness for doomed heroes, it’s hardly surprising that I have a soft spot for Caravaggio. One of the first exhibitions I saw as a teenager was The Genius of Rome, a feast of the Caravaggisti held at the Royal Academy in 2001, and from that moment I was captivated by the violent swagger of the period.